An own goal from Mats Hummels was enough to give France a 1-0 win over a game but toothless Germany side. The tournament favourites now look a cert for the knockout stages, and know that if they produce anything close to their best, it will take something special to stop them.
The first half was a tight affair but France always looked likelier, taking the lead on 20 minutes when Paul Pogba’s terrific pass picked out Theo Hernandez, and his cross was deflected past Manuel Neuer by the unlucky but inept Hummels.
Germany improved in the second half, dominating the ball and pushing the pace. But France blocked off the centre of the pitch and looked more likely to score on the counter then concede on the retreat. They ought really to have made the game safe, Adrien Rabiot hitting the post when in on goal, and Kylian Mbappe and Karim Benzema having a goals disallowed for offside.
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In the end, though, they won fairly comfortably and playing within themselves – a scary thought for the rest of the field.

TALKING POINT

In the history of international football, few teams have had as many brilliant players as France do now – that is why they are world champions, and that is why they are favourites to become European champions too. But watching them play can still feel frustrating, because Didier Deschamps is a cautious coach who has them playing within themselves.

There’s an argument to be made that the cohesion necessary for a more liberated style is impossible for a team who only train together a few times a year. But this team have been together for years and are more than good enough to develop the connections necessary to play dominant football.

Though Germany did not threaten much, they did make a couple of second-half chances that might not have come about had France been looking to dictate the play, rather than sit off it. They got away with it tonight, but to constrain a team such as this is not only risky, but a hate crime.

MAN OF THE MATCH

Paul Pogba (France) Varane and Kimpembe played well, but it was Pogba's class that created the winning goal.

PLAYER RATINGS

France: Lloris 6, Pavard 6, Varane 7, Kimpembe 7, Hernandez 7, Kante 6, Pogba 7, Rabiot 6, Griezmann 6, Benzema 6, Mbappe 6. Subs: Tolisso 6, Dembele 6.
Germany: Neuer 6, Kimmich 6, Hummels 5, Rudiger 6, Ginter 6, Gosens 6, Kroos 5, Gundogan 5, Muller 5, Havertz 5, Gnabry 5. Subs: Sane 5, Werner 5, Volland 6, Can 6.

France v Germany

Image credit: Getty Images

KEY MOMENTS


20’ - GOAL! France 1-0 Germany (Hummels own goal) Pogba picks up possession left of centre, and with everyone expecting a ball through to Mbappe, he instead wedges a gorgeous cross-kick that picks out Hernandez on the burst, left side of the box. He leaps and volleys a cross into the ground as hard as he can ... and it's going to find Mbappe ... until Hummels', who has to do something, finds his feet tied in a granny knot, freeing one to hump past Neuer.

52’ - Out of nothing, Mbappe sticks Rabiot in behind! He cuts in from the left and has Griezmann in the middle, but the angle at with he comes gives him potential finishes into either corner. He picks the near post ... but clips the outside of the post! He might've been offside, as it turns out, though he wasn't to know.

54’ - Gosens has been Germany's best player and slings over a delectable cross from the left, picking out Gnabry on the far side. He keeps his eye on the ball, but doesn't catch it right, funnelling his volley into the ground ... then watching it leap up and over the bar, just.

66’ - Aaaarrrgggghhhh! Pogba dinks a ball over the top to Mbappe, who darts at Gosens. He shapes to go outside, to hit a curler, goes back inside, then outside, then inside, and with the defenders flummoxed, he punched a lush finish past Neuer, low inside the far post. What a player! Except Griezmann was offside when the initial pass was made, and he might've been too.

85’ - GOAL! France 2-0 Germany (Benzema) AND THERE IT IS! All half, France have looked likely to find a clincher on the counter, and there is it! Pogba works the ball clear, picks it up again and twizzles on halfway before sending Mbappe away. He flashes down the right and punches a low cross over to Benzema, who sweeps high into the net!

87’ - NO GOAL! Mbappe was offside. In commentary, Ally McCoist thinks Pogba delayed on the pass, but I think he did really well to spin so his feet were where he needed them to be.

KEY STAT

The Expected Goal (xG) tally in tonight’s match between France and Germany was 1.38. This is the lowest of the tournament so far and the lowest combined tally in at the European Championship game since Wales 1-0 Northern Ireland in 2016 (0.56).
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